It has been a month since the whole Coronavirus situation escalated into a global epidemic. And the problem continues to grow. I spent some time seeking the lessons God might be teaching His people through this. Below are some thoughts.
First C: Consequences
The statistics are staggering. At the time of writing, nearly 81,000 infected and more than 2700 deaths worldwide. The lockdown in Hubei continues, with many people trapped in their homes and hospitals unable to cope with the severity of the outbreak. In Korea 100 new cases emerged in a single day and the number of casualties continued to climb exponentially.
In Singapore, our government has cautioned against a second virus called fear. Irrational fear saw people making a run for supplies and causing endless queues in supermarkets.
Yet there is, often ignored, a far more deadly virus. Every human being is infected and the mortality rate is 100%. That virus is sin. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.
Presently, human societies have tried to redefine marriage, redefine gender, redefine good and evil.
May God have mercy on us.
Second C: Consecration
What happens in the physical realm is often a manifestation of the spiritual realm. Separation and sanitation are the two most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus. But for the sin infection, outward cleansing is not enough. God is concerned with the inside.
On the inside, we have been stricken with malice, bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, envy and jealousy. The list goes on. The image of God has been eroded by the virus of sin. We need to be cleansed on the inside.
The only effective cleansing agent is the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 10:22-24 (ERV)
22 Sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our hearts have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. So come near to God with a sincere heart, full of confidence because of our faith in Christ.
We need to respond like the prophet Isaiah, who saw the glory of God in the temple and saw his own uncleanness, his own defilement. “Woe is me for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Many a time, we only see the faults of other people. We don’t see our own shortcomings and our sin until we have a face to face encounter with God. The blood of Jesus has been poured out for your sake and mine. Appropriate and apply the blood of Jesus by coming to God in confession and repentance.
Third C: Crown
“Corona” means crown in Latin. The Covid-19 virus looks similar to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). That’s because all three of these viruses are in the same family of “coronaviruses”, which are named for their crown- like appearance.
So also with sin. Sin looks like a crown because at the root of sin is the desire to wear that crown that has been reserved for God. We have since the fall tried to wrestle that crown that belongs to God alone.
The epidemic reminds us of the sovereignty of God. One of the most powerful nations of the world, with its current state of technology and innovation, with such medical and scientific talent and phenomenal resources that it can build a hospital in 10 days, had no answer to a virus so small that you cannot even identify from a typical light microscope.
If there was one character in the bible that learnt about the sovereignty of God, it was Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian King. One day he was walking on the roof of his royal palace and he reflected “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”
While the word was still in his mouth, a voice came from heaven saying “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”
Arguably the most powerful man on earth at that time, Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity and began eating grass like cattle and was behaving like an animal. Miraculously, after seven years, his sanity returned to him. He declared:
We all have to ask ourselves this question: Who is seating on the throne of our lives? Who wears the crown in your life?
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Whoever sets himself above God, God will humble. We all have to ask ourselves this question: Who is seating on the throne of our lives? Who wears the crown in your life?
Fourth C: Choice
One day, my good friend and law firm partner Ronald shared this thought at our firm’s devotion entitled “Don’t Share in the Plagues of Babylon”.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“‘Come out of her, my people,’[b]
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6 Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7 Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;[c]
I will never mourn.’
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
God has declared impending judgment on Babylon, which represents the pervasive culture in the world that has been infested with sin. We are told that “In her heart she boasts, I sit enthroned as queen…”. Babylon represents the system of the world that has been in rebellion against God since the fall. Every believer in Christ Jesus will have to make that conscious choice to have nothing to do with Babylon. In the end days, even the elect will be deceived. Be careful of Babylon, avoid her like you would the coronavirus.
Fifth C: Christ
Every crisis is an opportunity to show who Christ Is. The light always shines brightest on a black canvas. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1-2 to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consequences, Consecration, Crown, Choice: they reach a point of convergence in Christ. Christ took all consequences meant for us. Christ’s blood consecrates us. Christ alone is worthy of that crown to rule over creation. Christ gives us a choice to make.
I am reminded of that story of Jesus healing the leper in Matthew 8. This is particularly striking due to the current situation. The leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees and saying “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
The Pharisees took issue with Jesus. In their eyes, Jesus became unclean when he touched the leper. The purpose of the law was to quarantine an unclean person. But since Jesus was in no risk of being infected, he did not break the Spirit of the law. Jesus touched the man, so that the cure, and not the disease could be spread.
When Jesus healed the leper by touch, he was moved with compassion. He did not just come to heal the leper’s physical condition. He came and offered his hand of fellowship. He came to offer the answer to the problem of separation. He came to make His dwelling amongst us, to tabernacle with us (John 1:14). He came to resolve the problem of sin.
Jesus told the man to show himself to the priest so that the leper would get a clear picture of how Jesus cleanses him. As part of the ceremony, two birds were used. One dies (a guilt bearing sacrifice), and one lives (a living sacrifice). The blood of the first bird is mixed with water and the living sacrifice is to be dipped in that blood/water combination representing a cleansing (with blood) and then it is set free.
The leper is sprinkled with the blood/water too. He is like the live bird. The leper, like the living bird, goes free, while the blood of the sacrificed bird makes that possible. Christ would ultimately cleanse us with his own blood. He dies, we go free. What a glorious picture.
As I surveyed the wondrous cross once again, I saw Jesus with a crown of thorns affixed on his head, and his precious blood flowing from His wounds. The blood of Jesus that flowed from this crown dethroned sin and death, and every principality of darkness. His perfect love for us casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
There is still a dethronement that has to be done, and that is self. God has given us that choice to make. Would we take that crown off our heads, and give it to Christ our Lord and Savior? Would we be that living sacrifice, having understood that we live because of Him who died, and truly live for Him?
Lee Ee Yang is married to Charmaine and they have 3 beautiful children: Rachel, Caleb John and Esther Grace. Ee Yang is a lawyer by profession. He serves as Chairman of the Elders Board in Riverlife Church and also the Vice Chairman of Law Christian Fellowship. He enjoys having a cup of Kopi-C Siew Dai in the morning and the game of golf and soccer.